The Most Intriguing Archaeological Revelations Around the World in 2022

Ruth Schuster
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himera top pic
Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

Human nature may not have evolved as much as we’d like to think. Our inner carnivore cannot be shocked by learning that mysterious giant prehistoric structures were mega-traps to catch not one animal at a time but whole herds. Our inner consumer smiles at prehistoric long-distance trading in exotica millennia before the wheel, bringing Pakistani cotton to a 7,200-year-old village in Israel, though the couch potato within can’t quite grasp hunter-gatherers making pottery (roaming with heavy jars? Whatever next). We think some sites attest to prehistoric religiosity, though we may be viewing them through the scales of belief over our eyes, apropos of which, the chicken – everything we thought about its introduction to society was wrong, we learned this year. Here are some of the most interesting archaeological discoveries around the world in 2022.

In Israel
Luxury in the Late Neolithic
cotton

Cotton fibers found in a Late Neolithic village in Israel can’t have been local because cotton isn’t indigenous to the Middle East. It was indigenous to the Indus Valley:

Cotton from prehistoric Pakistan found in 7,200-year-old village in Israel

In Turkey
Domination in stone
Neolithic Sayburc Turkey

An 11,000-year-narrative relief is discovered when villagers in Sayburç, Turkey, were found to have repurposed ancient monoliths as bricks in the wall. It seems to show man’s dominance over wild beasts:

Narrative relief from 11,000 years ago found in Turkey

In Saudi Arabia
‘Desert kites’ mystery solved
kites

Not places to gather and worship, not animal pens, and not just in the Middle East: These strange giant stone structures are worldwide and their function has been nailed down once and for all:

Archaeologists solve century-old mystery of prehistoric ‘desert kites’

In Ukraine
Go west young man and don’t bite down
TARAS

Archaeologists describe an enigmatic Neolithic culture and its dietary habits, including making porridge with a special ingredient:

Neolithic site in Ukraine reveals early settlers ate porridge with a special ingredient

In central Europe
Pottery among hunter-gatherers
potterty

Early pottery technology crawls over from Asia and suddenly explodes. How? Through hunter-gatherer social networks:

Ancient pottery casts light on social networks among European hunter-gatherers

In Canaan
Plea to the gods in first alphabet
lice

In Africa, an elephant dies. Somewhere, its tusk is carved into a lice comb on which the earliest sentence ever found in Israel, in the earliest alphabet in the world, petitions the gods – but not to rain down good fortune or extirpate the foe:

Israeli archaeologists find first whole sentence written in Canaanite. On a lice comb

In Himera
Who exactly crushed the Carthaginians?
carthage

Genetic analysis of bodies found in mass graves after the two Battles of Himera 2,500 years ago sheds new light on the nature of the classical Greek army:

Who crushed the Carthaginians in Sicily 2,500 years ago? Not exactly the Greeks

In Cyprus
Glam juglets for a special trade
OPIUM

What are the must-have supplies for a journey through the afterlife? A la the Canaanites: food, drink and copious amounts of psychoactive drugs in Cypriot potlets:

Bong Age? Israeli archaeologists find opium in Bronze Age ceramics

In Arabia
Megadrought and the Jewish kingdom
himyar

Once upon a time, southern Arabia was ruled by a Jewish kingdom called Himyar. This is what happened to it:

Megadrought contributed to fall of Jewish kingdom in Arabia, rise of Islam, study suggests

In the Jordan Valley
The chicken, the egg and the rebels
The destruction layer at Tell Izṭabba (Beit She'an).

A chicken pinpoints not only the year in which the Hasmoneans crushed Beit She’an, but possibly the season too:

The chicken and the destruction of Beit She’an

In China
Modern culture 40,000 years ago
NIHEWAN

The people weren’t found. Their strangely advanced pigment-processing industry and miniaturized stone tools were:

Archaeologists find evidence for 40,000-year-old modern culture in China

In Rome
Coinage signals stressed-out emperors
מטבע עתיק אתנה

Four emperors in one year does not suggest good times:

Emperors’ stress during Rome’s civil war revealed by doctored gold coins

Out of context
Chicken scoop for the soul
chicken

When did the chicken really spread to the west, and when did it become appreciated not only as a fighter but as a foodstuff? New study debunks all previous work:

The true history of the chicken

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